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Some trying nine-way cover crop mix just to see which species provide benefits.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

October 29, 2014

2 Min Read

If it's your first year of trying cover crops and you're seeking help on weed suppression next spring and some root growth to begin helping your soil, cereal rye alone may be a good choice. Especially this late in the season, it may be one of the few cover crops that can get enough growth before temperatures drop very low so that it can survive the winter and produce good growth next spring.

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Then there are those who have grown cover crops for years and who have begun to see the benefits of soil health. Roger Wenning, Decatur County, falls in that category. He is stepping out and trying new things. In a plot he seeded in July after wheat this year, he seeded a nine-way mix of cover crops. This fall he dropped back to a five-way mix on many acres because it is working well for him. But he wanted to see what a nine-way mix might look like.

Related: What's In Your Cover Crop Mix?

The mix includes such things as Cahaba vetch and Pearl millet. The plants that look like slender cattails are the millet. They are growing with radishes, turnips and other species. Wenning hopes to take soil samples and other samples from various plots next spring so he can determine which cover crops produce nitrogen for his corn crop that will be planted next spring.

Understanding how cover crops can affect nitrogen release to crops is one of the next steps after you become comfortable with raising cover crops, he says.

Related: Innovators Adding New Options to Cover Crop Mixes

His overall goal is to improve soil health. Some of this soils have problems with past soil erosion. He's rebuilding soil, even though it takes a long time. He figures the material left behind by cover crops that becomes organic matter once the plants decay is one way to begin to rebuild soil health.

Thinking about a cover crop? Start with developing a plan. Download the FREE Cover Crops: Best Management Practices report today, and get the information you need to tailor a cover crop program to your needs.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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